Interview with Bishop Fellay (II)


29. Does the announcement of the approaching beatification of John Paul II pose a problem?

A serious problem, the problem of a pontificate that caused things to proceed by leaps and bounds in the wrong direction, along “progressive” lines, toward everything that they call “the spirit of Vatican II”.  This is therefore a public acknowledgment not only of the person of John Paul II but also of the Council and the whole spirit that accompanied it.

30. Has there been a new concept of sainthood and holiness since Vatican II?

Afraid so!  It is a concept of holiness for everybody, universal sanctity.  It is not wrong to say that there is a call, a vocation to holiness for all human beings;  but what is wrong is to lower holiness to a level that makes people believe that everyone is going to Heaven.

31. How could true miracles be permitted by God to authenticate a false teaching, in the case of the many beatifications and canonizations that have been performed in recent decades?

That is the whole problem:  are these real miracles?  Are these prodigies?  In my opinion, there are doubts.  I am very surprised by the casualness with which they are dealing with these things, as far as I know.

32. If canonization involves papal infallibility, could  one reject the new saints canonized by the Pope?

It is true that there is a problem there, on the question of contemporary canonizations.  Nevertheless one could ask the question of whether there is a true intention to invoke infallibility in the terms that are used by the Supreme Pontiff.  They changed these terms for [the ceremony of] canonization;  they have become much less strong than before.  I think that that goes along with the new mentality that does not want to make dogmatic definitions by invoking infallibility.  We should realize, however, that this is only a tentative explanation….  There is no satisfactory answer, except the one about the intention of the supreme authority to invoke his infallibility or not.

33. Can we choose among the saints recently proposed to the faithful to venerate?  What about Padre Pio?

I think that we must not choose.  However one can always keep the criteria that were universally recognized in the past as well;  thus, when there is a massive popular devotion, for example, to Fr. Maximilian Kolbe or to Padre Pio;  it should not cause any difficulty.  But once again, these are only opinions, in the absence of a magisterial judgment to be pronounced dogmatically.

34. Do you have any examples of graces obtained by the intercession of Archbishop Lefebvre?

Yes, we know about some, indeed, quite a few.  But I do not know whether they are really on the order of miracles, perhaps in one case or another.  When we’re talking about healings, we don’t have, as far as I know, all the necessary medical documents.  Many graces are obtained through the Archbishop’s intercession, but I will go no farther than that.


35. The Society has just celebrated an important anniversary.  How would you summarize these forty years?

An inspiring history… with many tears in the midst of great joys.  One of the greatest joys is the joy of realizing the extent to which Our Lord allows us to be associated with several of the beatitudes that He preached in the Sermon on the Mount, like the one about being able to suffer for the sake of His Name.  And through all the vicissitudes of the present crisis, we see that this work continues to grow, which, humanly speaking, is almost impossible.  This is certainly the mark of God on the work of Archbishop Lefebvre.

36. Has there been an increase in vocations?  If so, what are the reasons for it?

I think that there is great stability.  I would like to see more vocations.  I think that we will have to restart the crusades for vocations.  The world as such is very hostile to the fostering of vocations;  that is why we have to try to recreate everywhere climates in which vocations can once again develop.  Because there are many vocations, but often they do not get to mature because of this materialistic world.

37. You reported recently, at the Conference in Paris sponsored by Le Courrier de Rome, on a meeting of around thirty diocesan priests in Italy that you attended.  What do those priests expect today from the Society of St. Pius X?

These priests ask us above all for doctrine, which is an excellent sign.  If they are with us, it is of course because they want the old Mass, but after discovering the old Mass, they want something else.  They want something more, because they discover a whole world that they know is authentic.  They have no doubt that it is the true religion.  Then they need to brush up on their theological studies.  And they are not mistaken:  they go directly to Saint Thomas Aquinas.

38. This movement of priests who are turning to the Society, is it, in varying degrees, the same in all countries?

There are certainly varying degrees, and even different numbers depending on the country.  But we see the same phenomenon almost everywhere:  The priest, generally a young one, who approaches the Traditional Mass, who discovers with great enthusiasm this treasure, little by little travels a path toward Tradition, which finally makes him completely traditional.

39. Do you have hope that this sort of interest could affect some bishops, to the point where you foresee a future collaboration?

We already have contacts with some bishops, but for the moment everything is frozen by the bishops’ conferences, by the pressures all around, but there is no doubt whatsoever that in the future it will be possible for there to be forms of collaboration with some bishops.

40. Are you ready to attempt the experiment of Tradition with a bishop at the level of a Diocese?

The time for that is not yet ripe;  we are not there yet, but I think that it will happen.  It will be difficult;  we will have to look closely at how we can manage to achieve that.  It will be absolutely necessary that this be done with bishops who have really understood the crisis and who really want to work with us.

41. The lay faithful [affiliated with the SSPX] are increasingly numerous.  There are more and more chapels.  The state of necessity is still present.  Do you foresee the consecration of other auxiliary bishops for the Society?  Do you think that Rome could be in favor of episcopal consecrations in Tradition today?

For me, the answer is very simple:  there will either be bishops or else there will not, depending on whether or not the circumstances that prevailed at the first consecration [in 1988] are present again.


42. Your Excellency, we have the joy of seeing you often in the United States.  You like to travel here.  Could you comment?

My comment:  I love all the souls that the Good Lord has entrusted to us, and there are quite a few in the United States.  That’s all!

43. Have you been able to meet Cardinal Burke yet?

I have tried several times to see him, but I have not seen him yet.

44. A large number of bishops in the United States showed their support for the March for Life;  one of them even intervened forcefully against a [Catholic] hospital that was in favor of abortion.  Is there any hope that they will understand that the current crisis involves the Faith also?

I think that, unfortunately, with modern clergymen you have to distinguish between faith and morals.  Thus you will be able to find more bishops who are still responsive to moral problems than bishops who are concerned in questions of faith.  However we can tell ourselves that if someone very courageously defends Catholic morality, he must have the faith and his faith will be reinforced by it….  That is what I hope, while recognizing that there are some exceptions.

45. The American bishops want to revise together the directives given by John Paul II for the universities.  What, in your opinion, are the urgent measures that should be taken to turn today’s universities into authentic Catholic universities?

The first and most urgent measure is to return to Scholasticism.  They have to get rid of those modern philosophies and return to the sound philosophy, the objective, realist philosophy.  Saint Thomas must become the norm again, as at the beginning of the twentieth century.  Back then the 24 Thomistic theses were obligatory.  We have to return to them—that is absolutely necessary.  And after this philosophical renewal, it will be possible to continue along the same line with theology.

46. Bishop Robert Vasa of Baker Diocese (Oregon) recently recalled that the statements of a bishops’ conference could not be binding on a bishop in his diocese.  Is this re-litigating [calling into question again] the line of thinking started by the Council?

On this question of collegiality, it is not just a bishop who has spoken up.  The Pope himself, in addressing the Brazilian Bishops’ Conference, had some very strong words that put the role of Episcopal Conference in its place, and insisted on the personal authority of the bishops and on their direct relations with the Holy Father.

47. [Of all SSPX institutions,] the Seminary in Winona has the largest number of seminarians.  How do you explain that?

I think that it is quite simply due to the generosity of this country, which is readily inspired by a good cause.

48. What can be done to increase the number of priestly and religious vocations?

Pray, pray, pray!  Make sacrifices, too.

49. What are the strong points of the world of Tradition in the United States?

I think that there is this generosity that I just mentioned, and also the schools.  It is true that there is an impressive number of priests and that we would still need more, but I would say above all that the schools are indispensable.  We must also encourage aid to Traditional families.  We have to start a movement for families, to support and form them.  They are the primary cell of society.  The family is fundamental in the natural order and in the supernatural order.

50. In your opinion, Your Excellency, what is the importance of the schools?

They are of capital importance.  They are the future.  The young people will be Catholic if they have a good formation, but for that we need Catholic schools.

51. When parents are generous and therefore have large families, they are sometimes forced to home school.  What do you recommend to those who have access to good schools?

Those who have access to good schools should not hesitate one moment:  let them put their children in those schools!  Home schooling will never replace a good school.  If there is no good school, that obviously that is a different matter.

52. Do you expect, Your Excellency, to call for another Rosary crusade?  What do you recommend to the lay faithful today?

Yes!  The situation of the world, the situation of the Church—as anyone can see—continues to be very somber, even though there are some glimmers of hope, and these distressing elements oblige us more than ever to redouble the intensity of our prayers, while turning to the Blessed Virgin.  For the lay faithful today, the indispensable thing is prayer: especially family prayer which is frequently renewed, together with the essential thing that forms the Christian soul, that is, the spirit of sacrifice.


53. Your Excellency, next year you will celebrate thirty years in the priesthood, eighteen of them as the head of the Society of St. Pius X.  What were the major events during all those years?

That is quite a novel! …  Of course, I have first to mention the consecrations!  Other major events are the joy of having been an assistant to Archbishop Lefebvre, the joy of having been an assistant to Fr. Schmidberger, of having learned a lot at their sides, also the joy of being able to work with the other bishops of the Society, as well as with all our priests, in that great burst of zeal for the Faith, for the preservation of the Catholic Church.

54.  Any wish for the years to come?

That the Church will get back on track!  This is a metaphor, but it is truly our wish.  And for that to happen, the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of the Most Blessed Virgin has to come about.  We need it so much!

Thank you, Your Excellency, for granting this interview.

The interview was conducted at the Seminary of St. Thomas Aquinas in Winona (U.S.A.) on February 2, 2011, the Feast of the Presentation of the Child Jesus and the Purification of the Blessed Virgin. Our thanks to the Information Service of the General House and to the French and American editorial teams which translated and copyedited the answers of Bishop Bernard Fellay.

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